Have you ever purchased a product or patronised a service simply because a well-known person or celebrity you admire used or endorsed that product or service? That was Influencer Marketing at play.
Influencer marketing is a popular but often misunderstood term. At a fundamental level, Influencer marketing is a type of social media marketing that uses endorsements, and product mentions from influencers–individuals with a dedicated social following and/or are viewed as experts within their niche.
Five years ago, if you had asked any Nigerian active in the digital space what they thought about influencer marketing or who an Influencer is, they would have stared at you with the most confusing look you’d see on any human. When asked the same question today, the same people would have different responses and answers.
In a short time, Nigeria’s Influencer Marketing industry has grown in leaps and bounds. Influencer farms in Nigeria are cropping up, there are books and reports on Influencer marketing in Nigeria, and there have been an increase in brands utilising the services of Influencers and a spike in the sheer volume of Influencers across all tiers. According to a survey by the Nigeria Influencer Marketing Report (NIMReport), over 90% of people surveyed agreed that they have seen growth in the Nigerian Influencer Marketing Industry. Over 30% of advertisers now value influencer marketing as part of their marketing strategy’s importance to the brand, and brands spent a considerable percentage of their overall digital marketing budget on Influencer marketing in 2018. This is an industry which isn’t slowing down anytime soon.
In Nigeria, Influencers are divided into tiers.
Celebrity / Tier 1 Influencers: These days, It’s almost impossible to log into any social media app without seeing a famous face endorsing a product or acting as a spokesperson for a brand. Celebrity Influencers, at the onset, were the only recognised set of influencers in the digital space. They could quickly transfer their offline equity and influence and amass a large loyal following online. Nigerian celebrities are cashing out daily by being brand ambassadors and influencers. A considerable part of many multinationals’ marketing budget is spent on hiring and keeping famous people as the faces of the company’s products or services. This has had a positive effect on Nigerian celebrities as many of them are now intentional about their brand, their social media pages are aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and they carve out a niche for themselves by churning out relatable and quality content in the hopes that they will be engaged by brands to lead campaigns. These celebrity influencers have also moved from just posting on their pages to actually creating content for brands and monitoring this content. A celebrity Influencer in Nigeria is someone who has at least a million followers. Honourable mentions include former Big Brother Naija finalist Tobi Bakre, TV host Ebuka Obi Uchendu and multimedia personality Toke Makinwa.
Macro / Tier 2 Influencers: This group is famous as Internet celebrities. They range from skit creators to individuals who have carved a niche in various fields like Education, Finance, etc. Skit creators, for example, have increased ten folds, with the most successful ones acquiring millions of followers in just a short time. Macro Influencers are also highly utilised by brands who want to reach a particular target audience or who have a limited budget and cannot engage celebrity influencers. When we talk about Macro Influencers in Nigeria, people like Ogbeni Dipo, Omojuwa, Taaoma, Maraji, Lasisi, and Broda Shagi come to mind.
Micro / Tier 3 Influencers: When Nigerians hear of social media Influencers, this particular category comes to mind. These are everyday people with significant and passionate social media followers ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. They share and talk about general or specific topics with enthusiasm. They may offer exclusive events, contests, and content to build their reach on the particular platform(s) they’re on. In summary, Micro-Influencers are essentially amplifiers or social media town criers. They’re mostly restricted to creating publicity for brands and their products. Some popular Influencers in this category include Pamilerin, Mazi Ibe, and Olorisupergal.
Nano / Tier 4 Influencers: Last but not least are Nano Influencers. The last in order of mention but definitely not of importance. You may have never heard of these guys because they’re like you and me, have less than 5000 followers and do not care about having a niche. But brands and agencies are beginning to realise the importance of this category of influencers. They might not start conversations online, but they drive it. They might not possess thousands of followers, but the few hundreds of close friends, colleagues, siblings, and extended family members who follow them believe and trust their every word online. And as a plus, their influence also extends offline. Underestimate them at your own peril.
To summarise, though the influencer marketing industry in Nigeria is still at its infant stage, it’s fast-growing and gaining wide acceptance amongst brands/marketing executives, consumers, and critics. Also, brands and influencers must build solid collaborations and partnerships to achieve a win-win situation for both parties.
Brand/marketing executives, for example, need to understand that to get their brand’s message to the target audience quickly and effectively, they first need to utilise the services and skills of influencers, but most importantly, give them enough creative freedom. On the other hand, Influencers should invest in creating original and captivating content that will engage their followers, work with brands they believe in, and leverage the power of compelling storytelling to deliver brand messages to their audiences. All stakeholders need to maintain the highest standards of ethical practices. The future is bright!